HEC deplores reduction in higher education budget

ISLAMABAD: The governing body of Higher Education Commission on Saturday deplored the sudden cut in the higher education budget by another Rs5.90 billion from the committed Indicative Budget Ceiling of Rs70 billion for FY2020-21.

It emphasized that the move will dismantle the country’s higher education systems by forcing the shutdown of universities, which are already suffering from unprecedented budgetary shortfalls and the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

The members stressed upon the government to reconsider its decision, and take immediate steps to appropriately fund the universities in order to protect access to and quality of higher education. The commission stressed that without adequate investment in higher education, the youth of Pakistan will never acquire the competencies needed to develop and compete internationally.

Meanwhile, the commission thoroughly reviewed HEC funding formula for universities, took into account various proposals, and decided that for FY21, the actual total allocation of FY20 will be treated as ‘need grants’, accounting for 85pc of the total allocation, while the remaining 15pc will be treated as a performance grant, allocated on the basis of the number of publications, the number and amount of research grants received, as well as the number of PhD faculty and students.

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It was also agreed that for FY22 and beyond, a new funding methodology will be developed on the principles of equity, needs, and credit for performance.

The commission amended the Tenure Track Statutes by indexing TTS salaries to the comparable BPS scale plus a 35pc TTS Premium, thus introducing automatic adjustments of future TTS salaries in line with increases in BPS salary scales. Consistent with the international practice, the commission increased the maximum time limit for the tenure decision from the current 6 years to 9 years and endorsed collection of granular data of TTS faculty separately in HEMIS (Higher education Management Information System) to help universities and HEC maintain proper oversight over the progress of TTS faculty, and improve transparency and fairness of recruitment, promotion and tenure.

The governing body appreciated the comprehensive work done by the HEC in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic to minimize academic disruption, develop and guide universities to acquire online readiness, provide supplementary resources of Rs1.20 billion, deploy live dashboard to monitor the quality of online delivery, build free online academic content and resources, and motivate students to continue learning.

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